Copywriters, ghostwriters, sales writers and authors often have the same complaint when they get together and talk about the “business side of the writing business” – In fact, the top three complaints when first starting out are often, “It’s hard to market yourself, find that first client and get paid what you deserve.”
During a recent survey of 150 writers, common questions were:
“I’ve just finished taking a writing course – now what do I do?”
“How do I get my first client – everyone wants to see a portfolio”!”
“Should I write copy for free to get my name out there and build a portfolio?”
“How am I supposed to compete against people who are willing to write articles for $3.00 each?”
If this sounds familiar, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Start locally. Don’t try going after the biggest accounts right off the bat. First of all, as you’ve already discovered, competition is fierce. If you try to go after bigger accounts, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Give yourself the time to get some real experience under your belt. By starting out with smaller companies, you’ll gain valuable experience, start earning money right away and add to your portfolio.
- Do something to market yourself every day. Whatever your niche or specialty is, do something to let your prospective customers know you’re there. Write articles and post them on EzineArticles.com or start a blog. Add to your Website. Decide which social networking sites your prospective clients use, and join. (LinkedIn is a good one).
- Find support from other writers. Whether you do this online or in your community, it’s always a good idea to have support from people who, like you, understand what you’re going through.
- Don’t forget about adding some offline marketing ideas to your overall marketing strategy. Make a list of your ideal clients and decide how to approach them. Be creative – but keep it focused on what you bring to the table for your clients.
- If what you’re doing really isn’t working – get help. Take a course on marketing a writing business. One of the biggest reasons for failure can be because people get overwhelmed and discouraged. Don’t let that happen to you.
Take things one step a time. Start from wherever you’re at and make a plan to move forward. And if you’re stuck on one problem – such as building a Website, learning how to make your first sales call, or make your writing business stand out from the competition – don’t keep spinning your wheels. You’ve got a couple of options. For example, you could pay someone to do it for you. Of course, that can be expensive, and the next time you need it done, you’ll have to pay someone again.
Another option is to learn how to do what you need to do – but learn from someone who has already filtered out all the excess, useless information, and gotten rid of everything except what is absolutely essential for you to learn. That way there’s no “information overload” and it slashes your learning curve. And if you can also learn at your own pace, and have access to your instructors, you’re increasing your chances of success – because any time you get stuck, help is only an email away.
By learning at your own pace, in the way you learn best, you’ll build on success and build your writing business at the same time – and pretty soon you’ll look back and wonder why you ever worried about becoming a successful, well-paid, sought-after writer.